Addressing life after cancer treatment

June 5 marks the 24th annual National Survivors Day

Close to 1,000,000 Canadians count themselves among a growing population of cancer survivors. According to the National Cancer Institute, a survivor is someone who continues to function during and after overcoming a serious hardship or life-threatening disease.

The past two decades have brought a greater understanding of what it means to survive a cancer and the implications for patients, families and Canada’s cancer system. As a result, addressing the non-medical needs of people living beyond cancer treatment, and enabling them to play a more active role in their care, has become an important area of focus.

The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, through its Cancer Journey portfolio, is contributing to progress in these areas, for example through leading the development of one of the world’s first national guidelines for care and management of adult cancer survivors. The Pan-Canadian Guidance on Psychological and Supportive Care Services and Clinical Practices for Adult Cancer Survivors focuses on cancer survivors who have completed primary treatment – such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation – and require follow up services. It includes recommendations to help health authorities, decision makers and health practitioners provide the best clinical practices and survivor services needed to support the physical and mental health of survivors and their families.

Developed in collaboration with the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology, the guideline was created by a Cancer Journey Survivorship Expert Panel which included psychologists, nurses, social workers, a spiritual care professional, rehabilitation experts, a family physician, medical and radiation oncologists, psychosocial oncology researchers and health services researchers. The guideline will soon be available.

The Partnership’s other cancer survivorship initiatives are led by its National Survivorship Working Group and include:

  • The funding of four projects to explore strategies for the creation and implementation of care plans in St. John’s, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Alberta. These plans summarize personal information, treatment and follow-up protocols to empower people to manage their own care.
  • The launch of a program, Cancer Transitions, designed to help survivors make the transition from active treatment to post-treatment care. The program has been offered at over 12 sites in Canada.
  • Support for the creation of Cancer Chat Canada, an innovative program providing online support groups for both patients and families that are facilitated by health care professionals.

For more information about National Cancer Survivors Day, visit www.ncsd.org.

Learn more about the Partnership’s survivorship initiatives.